Depression is a word a lot of people run away from due to the stigma attached to it. The truth is everyone has suffered from it at one point in their lives, even if it has been for one day.
I have suffered from it in my late teens/early twenties and paradoxically the only thing that kept me sane was thinking of the different ways I could kill myself. It's not a nice place to be in at all especially if you're good at covering it up.
What is depression?
If you are going through a depressive period in your life just now, let me assure you it is not for life and you will get out of it. I have been there and know it can be tough to get out of the quagmire of the mind to see the light again. It can feel like being stuck in quicksand and the more you struggle the worse it gets.
Depression is a state of feeling low all the time for two weeks or more and some of the symptoms of depressions according to patient.co.uk can be:
- Low mood for most of the day, nearly every day. Things always seem 'black'.
- Loss of enjoyment and interest in life, even for activities that you normally enjoy.
- Abnormal sadness, often with weepiness.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or uselessness.
- Poor motivation. Even simple tasks seem difficult.
- Poor concentration. It may be difficult to read, work, etc.
- Sleeping problems:
- sometimes difficulty in getting off to sleep.
- sometimes waking early and unable to get back to sleep.
- sleeping too much sometimes occurs.
- Lacking in energy, always tired.
- Difficulty with affection, including going off sex.
- Poor appetite and weight loss. Sometimes the reverse happens with comfort eating and weight gain.
- Irritability, agitation, or restlessness.
- Symptoms often seem worse first thing each day.
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, palpitations, chest pains, and general aches.
- Recurrent thoughts of death. This is not usually a fear of death, more a preoccupation with death and dying. Some people get suicidal ideas such as …"life's not worth living".
Once you recognise the symptoms it will be easier to ask for help in the future and once you have gone through it once it will be easier to deal with if it comes back again.
The situation vs the mind
I believe depression is caused by the situations you find yourself in life. It is not a disease, it can't be caught, and there is no specific area in your body which, when removed, could alleviate the depression. The logical conclusion and speaking from my experience is that it is where you are in life that causes you to be depressed.
Take for example the person who is feeling lonely, they have a job with little contact with people, they don't go out a lot, and tend to keep their own company. This lack of human contact can be quite distressing for some people and put them in a depressive state. Now imagine the same person gets a job where there is lots of human contact and meets lots of different people and interacts well with them, their social life improves, and they are not staring at 4 walls as much as they used to. Their depression might not completely disappear but it will be lifted and eventually disappear with a little more confidence in themselves.
Depression is caused by what you focus on and when you always focus on the dark side of life the harder it will be to life yourself out of depression. Going back to the lonely person again; if they focus on not being able to find a partner and they see happy couples everywhere in life they tend to focus on the lack of having a partner. The more you focus on the lack of having a partner the more depressed you get, it is a vicious circle.
The vicious circle
When you have hit rock bottom low it can be hard to pull yourself back up, but it can be done and it can be done easily if you let it. I am not saying the process of getting out of depression is easy but flipping the switch is easier which makes it a lot easier to get out of depression.
If you think the only way to think about life is to focus on what you have or don't have right now you'd be wrong, totally wrong. This is what can be keeping you in this depressive state. And yes you might say; I have no money, I am £50,000 in debt, I have no partner, I am losing my house, I am losing my job. However, think about this situation for a moment. You are focusing your attention on everything you are losing and it is going round and round in your head about everything you are losing and life sucks. You might resort to medication; I would never advocate this for depression as you are running away form the underlying cause of you feeling depressed.
Overcoming depression is extremely easy. Before you say it's not and "˜you don't know my situation'. The truth is some people like being labelled, in fact most people label other people to make life a little simpler for themselves. Depressed people label themselves as depressed so they can say "˜I have the label of depression, therefore I will be depressed for a few weeks or a few months but I will get out of it once I feel like un-labelling myself as depressed'. That might sound harsh and I hope I am not offending anybody here however I have been where you are I have sunk to my lowest point in life and I can say it is easy to get out of depression, or rather it is easy to start the process.
You have life, you are living and breathing! Acknowledge this for a few moments, don't say but, but, but! Just acknowledge that you are living and breathing. Acknowledge another good thing in your life, it might be you have a roof over your head, you have the time to read this article, you have a great partner, you have food in the fridge, just acknowledge the things you have in your life.
This can be difficult at first because that little mind of yours keeps whispering "˜yes you might have food in the fridge but you've nobody to share it with' as soon as you hear the word "˜but' in your head stop that train of thought and re-focus on what you have. With practice this will become automatic and you will start to see a change in your thinking and a life in your mood.
Another great way to focus on the good things in life is by using your imagination and replaying all your good memories you have in life. Just get time to yourself, close you eyes and find one great happy memory you have and let that lead you to other happy memories. If you feel the sad memories creeping in, just go back and re-focus on the happy memories. Again this can be difficult to begin with but it will get easier.
Another useful way to focus on the good things is to imagine what it will be like in your future. You imagine yourself as the person you want to be in life, you imagine the things you want in life don't even concern yourself with the tools to get these things just let your imagination go and imagine your ideal future. The more you do this the easier it will become. Don't let the mind monster steer you away from the good and happy thoughts just keep going back and remember you control your mind, your mind does not control you.
Life is simple, it's the labels we attach to life that are complicated.
Don't let this simple process put you off trying this, you will find most solutions to problems are simple and so it is with depression.
The reason this works, and I do know from experience, is that it is directing your attention away from the perceived negative situations in your life. The less time you spend in the negative, the less you will feel depressed.
Once you have reached the state of feeling good again it's time to deal with the circumstances which made you feel depressed in the first place. Due to you feeling good it will be easier to deal with the situations at hand and they will not become as hard as it was.
Looking at your situation logically
When you start to look at all the situations which was making you feel down, look at it from another's eyes. Imagine your situation is your friends situation and you are advising your friend what to do.
If you are in £50,000 worth of debt you will begin to focus on the solution of getting out of the debt or going bankrupt and starting all over. Going bankrupt is not that big a deal and can be a huge relief, I know it was for me, and it taught me a huge lesson in life.
What's the worst that can happen?
I always ask myself one question whenever I start to panic about a situation: "˜What's the worst that can happen?'
If you truly find the worst case scenario then work with your problem from that angle you will find things are not as bad as you first imagined.
Living your life again
I hope I have not offended you, or belittled your current situation as this was not my intention when writing this article. My intention is to help you help yourself. I can give you a few tools to change your life but you have to be willing to use the tools.
I hope you do use the tools and hope you change your current state to one of loving life.